Cohabitation, or the act of living together with a partner outside of marriage, used to be a rarity. However, it has become quite common in the modern world. Many now see it as a precursor to marriage, while others view it as an alternative option to marriage. A majority of married Americans today (nearly 60%) report that they cohabited before tying the knot.Read More
The Netherlands is often seen as a utopia for people who are attracted to the same sex—and this view is perfectly understandable when you look at how homosexuality has historically been treated under the law. However, while homosexuality is something that has been accepted in the Netherlands far longer than in has in other parts of the world, this doesn’t mean that everyone in the Netherlands is accepting of sexual minorities or that sexual minorities here are immune from the effects of prejudice and discrimination.Read More
I've been researching sex laws in the Netherlands as part of the study abroad course on sex and culture that I'm teaching. One of the ways sex laws in the Netherlands are unique compared to the US is that prostitution and brothels are legal and regulated by the government--but you probably already knew that. So here are a few other legal differences that might be new to you.Read More
Today in my study abroad course on sex and culture in the Netherlands, we're focusing on sex work, especially the link between prostitution and mental health. Many studies have been conducted on the mental health of people (mostly women) who sell sex for a living. Most of this research has found that female sex workers suffer from rates of depression, anxiety, and PTSD that are much higher than the rest of the female population. However, virtually of all of this research is based on studies of female sex workers who live in countries where prostitution is illegal.
So what about places, like the Netherlands where sex work is permitted under the law?Read More
As part of the study abroad course I’m currently teaching on Sex and Culture in the Netherlands, I’ve done some research into what sex laws look like over here. As I wrote in previous posts about this class, two of the ways that laws in the Netherlands are unique compared to the United States are that prostitution is legal and comprehensive sex education is mandated. However, those are just a couple of the most interesting differences. Here are a few more:
1.) Sex and the disabled. The Netherlands doesn’t just have legal prostitution—they also have government-subsidized prostitution for certain segments of the population. Specifically, disabled citizens are eligible to receive government assistance to hire sex workers. Why? Because sex is seen as a right—something that everyone who wants to participate in should be able to enjoy. Also, it’s something that’s seen as good for people’s mental and physical health.Read More
What would it be like if prostitution were legal? If you're from the United States or any other part of the world where sex work is (largely) prohibited by law, this might be a very difficult thing to imagine. However, if you look to countries where sex work is legal today, you can see that there are actually several different forms it can take. For example, in Switzerland, they’ve opened up drive-in sex garages, which you can learn more about here. And in the Netherlands (where I'm teaching a study abroad course on sex and culture at the moment), they have walk-up sex windows in the Red Light District.Read More
It has become an October tradition for the media to run story after story warning parents that sex offenders are at an increased risk of committing sex crimes against children on Halloween. All of the panic stoked by these claims has prompted lawmakers across the country to begin passing laws that restrict the activities of convicted sex offenders on Halloween--such as mandatory curfews--or that require police officers to check up on sex offenders during trick-or-treat hours.
But is it true that there's a higher risk of sex crimes taking place on Halloween? And is there any evidence that laws like this actually make us safer? Let's take a look at the data.Read More
There are dramatic cross-cultural differences in the legal status of prostitution. These range from complete criminalization to legalized, government-regulated sex work. So which model is best? Well, that depends upon who you ask. One group of people who is almost never asked to weigh in on these laws, though, is the folks who are selling sex themselves. What laws would sex workers like to see and why?Read More
If you’re anything like me, your newsfeed has probably been dominanted with articles about the popular gaming app Pokémon GO for the past few weeks. Most of the stories to emerge so far have focused on how this augmented reality game is affecting the everyday lives of users. For instance, among other things, it is helping many folks to get more exercise and lose weight, which is great. At the same time, though, it has also (sadly) contributed to at least a few cases of distracted driving that ended in car crashes.
However, one thing you may not have heard much about yet is how Pokémon GO is affecting people's sex lives. Yep, you read that right.
As you'll see below, there have been a number of rather surprising sexual implications of the Pokémon GO phenomenon that the creators of the game probably never anticipated.Read More
History is full of examples of governmental and religious authorities going to great lengths to regulate people’s sex lives. Of course, these efforts continue in the modern world--however, sex today isn't regulated to quite the same extent as it was in the past, at least in the Western world.
By today’s standards, many of the older laws—and their corresponding punishments—seem, well, downright absurd. Below are five such examples drawn from the book, Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire by Eric Berkowitz.Read More
When it comes to sex, a lot of what we think of as being "normal" today was illegal and carried serious punishments in the not-too-distant past. For instance, federal law in the United States (specifically, the Comstock Law) used to prohibit the distribution of pornography, contraceptive devices (including pamphlets and information about birth control), and sex toys through the mail. This law was in effect for decades, and it had enormous implications for people's sex lives, not to mention their health. However, this is just one of many examples of how sex laws have been out of synch with people's sexual needs and desires.Read More
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know the following:
“How many men have paid for sex with a prostitute before? Is this becoming more or less common?”
Buying sex is a behavior that appears to have decreased among men in recent years. Just how much have things changed? As a starting point, consider this:Read More
Every year around Halloween, the media starts running story after story warning parents to watch out for sex offenders who plan to exploit the holiday as a means of preying upon children. Concerns about this have even prompted lawmakers in many parts of the country to pass laws that restrict the activities of convicted sex offenders on Halloween, or that require police to check up on them during Trick or Treat hours. All of this media panic and legislation has prompted some researchers to wonder whether there really is reason to be extra worried at this time of year.Read More
Prostitution is sometimes referred to as “the world’s oldest profession” because the sale of sex can be traced back to almost all cultures and societies in recorded history. However, the results of several recent surveys have led some to wonder whether prostitution is becoming a thing of the past because fewer and fewer people are reporting experience buying and selling sex.Read More
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” – Todd Akin, Republican Senate Candidate from Missouri
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably seen a ton of headlines over the past few days referencing Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin’s comments about rape. Akin’s remarks were asinine on multiple levels because not only is it patently offensive to suggest that some rapes are “legitimate” while others are not, but there is absolutely nothing to back up his provocative claim that women’s bodies have mechanisms in place to prevent rape-related pregnancies from occurring. In fact, research has actually found the opposite of what Akin suggested: specifically, the per-incident pregnancy rate is higher for rapes than it is for consensual sex.1
Although the Akin controversy has stoked a lot of public anger, the silver lining is that his remarks have prompted a public dialogue about sexual assault that we desperately need to have. I have read so many excellent articles this week that are providing some much-needed attention to this important issue. If I may add one small bit to this, I would like to talk briefly about the definition of rape and how the wide variability in legal definitions of this crime may be contributing to confusion about what rape is and distracting us from the bigger issues at stake here.